Black Mountain residents advocate for nonpartisan commission on district boundaries

Press release:


BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC – Recently, a group of ten Black Mountain residents met with Mayor Michael Sobol to discuss the issue of gerrymandering, a process that unfairly manipulates the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one party or class over another.

The meeting was organized by Kris Kramer, a local activist who believes voting districts should be realigned by an independent, nonpartisan commission rather than the party in power.

According to a recent article in The Atlantic magazine, in the State of North Carolina, “the Republican-led General Assembly created a web of districts with little geographic coherence.” These carefully cherry-picked boundaries “packed more black voters into certain districts and diluted their voting strength in others.”

A North Carolina bill, HB200, calling for nonpartisan redistricting in the state was introduced on February 13, 2017 by four Republican representatives standing up for democracy: Chuck McGrady, Sarah Stevens, Jonathan Jordan, and Jon Hardister. House Speaker Tim Moore has never allowed the bill to be discussed or voted on.

The trend of resistance to gerrymandering is evident in many towns, cities, and states throughout the nation. There has been a public outcry against the unjust and unfair slicing and dicing of voter districts. Although much of the resistance has come from Democrats and Independents against the current Republican stranglehold on legislative power, in the past the Democratic Party had also used the unbalanced practice.

“What we want is fair, independent districting redrawn by a nonpartisan group,” Kramer said. “With today’s technological advances, gerrymandering can be so fine-toothed that a district can wind around even one particular house to exclude it.”

The citizen group presented Mayor Sobol with a sample resolution encouraging the North Carolina General Assembly to end gerrymandering. That resolution had already been passed by the Asheville City Council. Other cities and towns across North Carolina have done the same.

Mayor Sobol suggested the group take the request to the Black Mountain Board of Aldermen, consisting of Maggie Tuttle, Donald Collins, Larry B. Harris, Vice Mayor Ryan Stone, and Carlos Showers. The group will attend and present a simpler, shortened version of the resolution, as revised by Valerie Hartshorn, to the Town Council to be placed on the agenda of the Monday, August 14th meeting, at 6:00 p.m. Interested citizens are invited to attend to voice their opinions pro and con.

For more information on what you can do to make your voice heard on the subject of gerrymandering, contact: League of Women Voters, Common Cause, NAACP, ACLU, Democracy Now, and your local state representatives and state senators.

About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.